Monday, December 19, 2005

Ryan's Best Albums of 2005

Now to answer all you sissies who complain about my negative attitude. There are actually things that I enjoy, and while this wasn't exactly the best year ever for music, there were some pretty damn good albums that came out this year. I wanted to keep this brief, so I had to leave out some albums like The Legend of Johnny Cash, Matisyahu Live at Stubbs and Guero by Beck.
One thing that drives me nuts, if you go on or something like that and look at people's Best of 2005 lists is that 99% of the time, the albums they list weren't even released in 2005. A good example is The Killers album Hot Fuss. It was listed on everyone's Top Albums of 2005 list, but the damn thing was released 18 months ago. You won't see that here.

They Might Be Giants - They Got Lost
As you will see, it was a good year for bands releasing b-sides. The great thing about b-sides albums is that if you have a really stellar band, particularly one with amazing live performances, they have some very good material that isn't released on an album that you can hear only when you see them live or by spending $30 on the Japanese import with 2 songs on it. This album has some great songs like that including I am a Human Head and The Arm is Tired Now. Looking back at the last few years, which have included multiple anthologies and new material from these guys, you can learn to appreicate how much good material they've created, particularly since a more popular band like Creed can barely put together 10 songs without blood shooting from my ears. It will always astonish me that They Might Be Giants gets as little attention as they do, but that's pop culture.

Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet
Yeah, you heard me right, Slippery When Wet. I know it was originally released in 1985, but a remastered double CD edition was released in September, which means I can put it on my list for this year. This album allows you to differentiate between people who are genuine music fans and people who are pretentious assholes. Pretentious assholes will attempt to refute the genius of this rock masterwork, while pointing out that he released an album of new material (Have a Nice Day) that they think is "pretty good". Let me just say that Have a Nice Day almost made my worst albums of the year list. If Scott Stapp had died in a car wreck, it would have been on there. This may very well be Bon Jovi's only great album and it should be celebrated as such.

Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth
Earlier this year, I was listening to one of my other favorite albums of all time, NIN's Pretty Hate Machine, and was lamenting the lack of quality material from NIN as of late. Downward Spriral was Trent Reznor's last decent album. He released a double disc that was just Ok in 1999, and a live album in 2002 that was also just fair. With Teeth redeemed my faith in Reznor, and it's good without trying to be too weird, which is something that guy should talk to a psychiatrist about. Only Mike Patton can eat Doritos and make animal noises and pass that off as musical genius.

Fall Out Boy - From Under the Cork Tree
By the time you read this, commercial radio and MTV will have sucked the life out of one of the most interesting and surprising records of the year. When I heard Sugar We're Going Down the first time on the radio, I was repulsed, but I figured I would hear the song about 30 million times because radio takes mediocre music and makes you hate it intensely by putting it in "heavy rotation" (See Nickelback). Fortunately, the rest of the album is excellent. With song titles like I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me and I've Got A Dark Alley and A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song) and some decent songwriting, I have to give Fall Out Boy credit for proving my first impression completely wrong.

Deftones B-Sides and Rarities
Deftones are absolutely one of the most underappreciated bands this side of They Might Be Giants. The problem with the Deftones is that their first album, Adrenaline, was groundbreaking and completely unlike a lot of the musical turds that were floating around the pool in 1995 (The theme from Friends and Cotton Eye Joe were two of the top songs in that year, just to give you some perspective). Around the Fur was not quite as good as Adrenaline, but still awesome. After Around the Fur, the band recruited a DJ, since that seemed to be working for Limp Bizkit (see comment about LB below) at the time. Their next album, White Pony, and their Self-Titled Album continued to decline, which is difficult to avoid when your first two albums are completely awesome. This collection has a lot of good tracks from early on, as well as some acoustic tracks that any fan with a filesharing program has had for at least 5 years. But, it's still a good collection, and if the downward trend continues, was probably better than releasing a studio album at this point.

A note about Limp Bizkit: In doing some research about some of the music that came out this year, I was surprised about the quiet release of Limp Bizkit's Greatest Hitz. In my opinion, Limp Bizkit has one good (not great) album in Three Dollar Bill, Y'all. Everything after that was completely indistinguishable crap, except when Wes Borland left the band and the guitar work went completely to shit. I think bands that only have one decent album should be banned from releasing a greatest hits album. Creed and Fuel were additional examples of bands that have no businesss releasing Greatest Hits albums, because of their lack of hits.

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